Nanowrimo 2013 Day 1
Other-Space Chapter 1 (part 1)
This was actually a bit of a struggle, of course starting a story is almost always the hardest part. Hopefully I won't have quite the same problem as the story progresses.
Chapter 1 – “You’re doing it again.”
“I think we could get through it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, as long as we drag our gear through after ourselves. The only problem is what’s on the other end.”
Jade gazed into the small opening in front of them. All she saw was rock and darkness.
“No light, it could be a dead end,” she said.
“True,” Dani replied. “Only one way to find out. I’ll go first.”
Jade nodded. Dani was the bigger of the two, or at least the tallest. Dani was about five and a half feet tall, Jade didn’t even come up to four. If Dani could fit through the small tunnel Jade wouldn’t have a problem. Dani threw off her backpack, which hit the damp cave floor with a splat, and began rummaging around inside. Jade did the same with hers. Dani was the first to find what she was after and pulled out a length of rope.
“Okay, wish me luck,” she said as she tied the rope around her waist. “You’ll know if I get stuck.”
Jade nodded, “Two tugs.”
Two tugs on the rope meant she’d gotten stuck or come to a dead end, one tug meant she’d come out at the other end of the tunnel. Dani handed Jade the other end of the rope before lying down on her front and pulling herself into the small tunnel. As she watched Dani’s feet disappear into tunnel and more and more of the rope get dragged in after her Jade squatted down by the tunnel entrance. She looked over her surroundings, light from the small lamp attached to the front of her helmet sweeping over the dark rock as she turned to look somewhere else.
Dani and Jade were Cave Crawlers. A small group dedicated to exploring a vast network of caves near their home. The caves went on for miles, but the important part was where they came out. Some of them would come out on different parts of the planet, and others would lead to a completely different planet. Cave Crawlers began when they turned 13, Jade had been with them for five years and Dani a year longer.
Back when she started the idea of crawling through the long dark tunnels had unnerved Jade, the possibility of a cave collapsing and leaving them trapped down there certainly hadn’t helped, especially on the occasion when that actually happened. But she’d gotten used to it over time, having Dani down there with her certainly helped though she did still feel nervous on occasions like this when they had to split up. But even when she’d been afraid of the caves what they’d find on the other side was almost always worth it. Jade liked exploring, which was why she’d joined the Cave Crawlers in the first place.
Jade felt a tug on the rope, just one. Dani must’ve found an opening at the end of the tunnel. Jade quickly set about securing her end of the rope to Dani’s discarded backpack, and once she was sure it was ready she gave the rope another tug. From the other end of the tunnel Dani started pulling on the rope and dragging her backpack into the tunnel, which was only just large enough to let it through. Jade tied her own rope around her waist and to her backpack before she began to make her way down the tunnel.
Crawling through small tunnels was one part of the experience that Jade had never liked. She’s been through so many tunnels like this over the years that she’d lost count, she’d even been through that were too small for Dani to get through. She hadn’t lost count of the number of times she’d gotten stuck in one yet, which had only happened about six times so far. Eventually she saw a light ahead of her, probably from Dani’s headlamp. She continued to haul herself forwards until she managed to cross the threshold.
The tunnel came out in yet more cave. It wasn’t as big as the previous one, Dani had to bend down slightly from the low ceiling, and the black rock had become a pale brown. The two of them hauled Jade’s backpack through the tunnel before heading further into the cave.
“I think I lost a button,” Jade said, looking down the front of the dark green jacket that made up part of her Cave Crawler uniform.
“Yes, again.” That was another reason Jade didn’t like going through the small tunnels.
“Maybe you’ll find it again when we go back.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Jade didn’t mention that she’d rather not be reminded that they needed to back through the tunnel later.
The cave ceiling started to rise up after a while allowing Dani to stand up straight, and after about half an hour of walking they caught sight of the mouth of the cave with sunlight streaming through it, they had to shield their eyes and wait for them to adjust to the light. They stepped out of the cave and gazed out at the sight in front of them.
“Woah!” Jade exclaimed.
The cave came out to a wide ledge in the side of a fast cliff overlooking a fast forest. The forest was a fantastic mix of colour, with different shades of red green and yellow spread throughout the dense canopy of trees. Almost directly ahead of them the bright yellow sun was setting, and the clouds suspended in the red sky were awash with even more colour as a result. The two of them gazed out at the view, Jade sporting a wide grin of delight on her face.
Eventually Dani shrugged off her backpack. “Well, you start doing your thing and I’ll do mine,” she said.
Jade nodded and did the same. Dani extracted a sketchbook and a pencil from her backpack, Jade took out a black handheld camera. Dani began flicking through the sketchbook before finding a black page. Cradling the book in her left arm she glanced out at the landscape and began drawing. Jade set about taking photographs of their surroundings.
They’d seen plenty of forests before, and a lot of them were rather bland and boring, but the colours made this one stand out. Jade stopped a large bird burst out of the canopy and glide over the treetops; she managed to get a shot of it before it dived back down in the foliage.
Jade glanced over at Dani, still scribbling away with her pencil. A slight breeze lifted up the corner of the page ruffled her long white hair. Dani’s hair wasn’t naturally white, she liked to dye it different colours but white was her favourite, and it stood out in contrast to her dark skin. Jade’s hair was a bright red and only went down to her shoulders. She’d tried growing it a few times but found longer hair to be a bit of nuisance, and these days she found it hard to picture herself with long hair, and she couldn’t picture Dani with anything else. She watched as Dani spread line after line over the paper, effortlessly capturing the spectacle that spread out in front of her.
“Jade, you’re doing it again.”
Jade smiled nervously and raised her camera, wordlessly asking to take a photograph of her companion.
“Sure, why not.” Dani smiled and turned slightly to face the camera. Just as Jade took the picture a gust of wind caught Dani’s hair and it streamed out behind her.
“Wonderful,” Jade whispered to herself as she took the shot.
Jade went back to taking photographs of the landscape, including a few of the cliff face. Once she was sure she had enough she took out a map of the cave system and sat down against the cliff, adding in the route they’d taken through the caves. After that she just sat and watched Dani drawing.
Dani didn’t stop until the sun had completely set and night had fallen. Jade gazed up at the star studded sky, wishing she could take a few photographs of it. She’d tried taking pictures of the night sky before but the stars never showed up very well with her camera, but she still liked to just look at them, she always felt very relaxed when she was stargazing. Dani sat down next to her; she’d closed her sketchbook and was now returning it to her backpack.
“Finished?” Jade asked her.
“Not yet,” Dani told her. “I’ll finish it off when we get back.”
Dani would often return home with her drawings unfinished, but that never worried her. Dani had a perfect memory so applying the finishing touches was never a problem. Jade loved Dani’s artistic talent, she’d tried drawing a landscape a few times but she just didn’t have the knack.
“How about we come back here another time,” Dani suggested. “We should explore this place a bit more.”
Jade nodded. “We’d need some climbing equipment though,” she said, “if we want to get down there, or up there.”
“Which would you prefer?”
“Up, we don’t have any idea of what’s up there yet.”
“I dunno, down would be so much easier.”
“But we’d still have to get back up again.”
“True, but at least we’d already have the stuff in place.”
Jade just nodded, she’d didn’t have to tell Dani that she’d made a good point.
Dani got to feet. “Come on, we should head back.”
Jade stood up as well and they both headed back into the cave. It wasn’t long before they got to the small tunnel, Jade went first this time and pulled herself through as fast as she could, she didn’t find her lost button. As she waited for Dani to come through she had time to think. That moment when she’d zoned out earlier while staring at her fellow Cave Crawler. Dani was right, she’d done it again. This time she’d felt her heartbeat increase a little. She’d felt strangely blissful at that moment, as Dani emerged from the tunnel Jade realised what this must all mean.